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A new earth modeling system unveiled today will have time-scale resolution and use state-of-the-art computers to simulate aspects of Earth’s variability and anticipate decadal changes that will critically impact the U.S. energy sector in years future.

“E3SM is a state-of-the-science modeling project that uses the world’s fastest computers to understand more precisely how Earth’s climate works and may change in the future. The goal: to support the DOE’s mission to build robust, efficient, and cost-effective energy infrastructure now and into the distant future.”

After four years of development, the Exascale Energy Earth Model System (E3SM) will be released to the scientific community at large this month. The E3SM project is supported by the Department of the Office of Energy Sciences in the Office of Biological Research and the Environment. The E3SM release will include model code and documentation, as well as the release of a first set of benchmark simulations.

This multi-laboratory effort will be a huge advancement in our already significant capabilities for modeling and analyzing energy-related Earth systems,” said John Sarrao, associate senior director for science, technology and engineering at the National Laboratory. from Los Alamos. “Our laboratory, along with our sister institutions, has made important contributions to Earth-systems modeling over the past decades, but this latest contribution takes our work to an entirely new level. »

The Earth, with its myriad interactions of atmosphere, oceans, land and ice components, presents an extraordinarily complex system for investigation. Earth system simulation involves solving approximations of physical, chemical, and biological governance equations on spatial grids at resolutions that are as well at the scale as computing resources will allow.

E3SM is the first end-to-end multi-scale Earth system model, meaning that we can focus model resolution and computational resources to specific locations to help answer specific questions that are important to DOE.” said Los Alamos researcher Steve Price. “For example, Los Alamos is using E3SM with resolution focused around Antarctica to improve modeling of how ocean waters melt ice shelves – the critical process that controls the likelihood of abrupt sea level rise.”

The E3SM project reliably simulates aspects of Earth system variability and predicts decadal changes that will critically impact the US energy sector in the near future. These critical factors include a) regional air/water temperatures, which can strain energy networks; (b) availability of water, which affects power plant operations; c) extreme water cycle events (eg floods and droughts), which impact infrastructure and bio-energetics; and (d) increased sea level coastal flooding that threatens coastal infrastructure.

There are no shortage of significant issues that we can address with this new modeling capability,” said Todd Ringler, also of Los Alamos. “Take the Arctic, for example. It is changing rapidly – presenting new opportunities and new security risks. This new modeling capability – in particular the new approaches we have developed for ocean and sea ice systems – will be essential for predicting the how, when and why of the Arctic’s evolution.”

The goal of the project is to develop an Earth System Model (ESM) that has not been possible due to the limitations of current computing technologies.

Achieving this goal will require progress on three frontiers:

  • Better resolution of Earth system processes through a strategic combination of developing new processes in the model, increased model resolution and increased computational performance
  • More realistically representing the two-way interactions between human activities and natural processes, especially when these interactions affect the energy needs of the United States
  • Modeling package to quantify the uncertainty of model simulations and projections

The quality and quantity of observations really constrains the models for us,” said David Bader, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and E.3SM project. “With the new system, we will be able to more realistically simulate the present, which gives us more confidence to simulate the future. »

Simulating atmospheric and oceanic fluid dynamics at fine spatial resolution is particularly challenging for MSEs. The E3SM project is positioned at the forefront of this research challenge, acting on behalf of an international ESM effort. Increasing the number of simulated earth system days per day of computation time is a sine qua non for achieving the E3SM project objective. It is important for E3SM to make effective use of the various computing architectures as the DOE’s Advanced Scientific Research Computing (ASCR) Office procures them to prepare for the uncertain future of next-generation machines.

A long-term goal of the E3SM project is to use exascale machines to be procured over the next five years. The development of the E3SM is running parallel to the Exaflops Initiative (ECI). (An exascale refers to a computer system capable of running one billion billion (109 x109 = 1018) calculations per second. This represents a thousand-fold increase in performance over that of the most advanced computers a decade ago).

“We are particularly interested in accurately assessing the risk of sudden sea level rise, say more than 3 feet, sometime in this century,” Ringler said. “To accomplish this, Los Alamos is building entirely new computer models of the ocean, land-ice and sea-ice systems – this is a tremendous accomplishment by the Los Alamos modeling team.” »

This model adds a much more complete representation between the interactions of the energy system and the earth system,” Bader said. “The increased computing power allows us to add more detail to processes and interactions which results in more accurate and useful simulations than previous models. »

To address the various critical factors impacting the U.S. energy sector, the E3SM project is dedicated to answering three overarching scientific questions that drive its digital experimentation initiatives:

  • Water Cycle: How does the hydrological cycle interact with the rest of the human Earth system on the local to the global scale to determine extremes in water availability and the water cycle?
  • Biogeochemistry: How do biogeochemical cycles interact with other components of the Earth system to influence the energy sector?
  • Cryosphere Systems: How do rapid changes in the cryosphere (continental ice and ocean) systems evolve with the Earth system and contribute to sea level rise and increased coastal vulnerability?

In the th3SM, all model components (atmosphere, ocean, land, ice) are able to employ variable resolution to focus computing power on fine-scale processes in regions of particular interest. This is achieved by using peak configuration mesh which smoothly tapers the grid across from the coarser outer region to the more refined region.

The E3SM Project includes more than 100 scientists and software engineers at several DOE labs, as well as several universities; DOE laboratories include Argonne, Brookhaven, Lawrence Livermore, Lawrence Berkeley, Los Alamos, Oak Ridge, Pacific Northwest and Sandia National Laboratories. Given the unification of the DOE Earth system modeling community to perform high-resolution coupled simulations, the E3SM executive committee received the Secretary of Energy Excellence Award in 2015.

Additionally, the E3SM Project also benefits from DOE programmatic collaborations including the Exascale Computing Project (ECP) and Science Discovery Programs by Advanced Computing (SciDAC), Climate Model Development and Validation (CMDV), Measurement of Atmospheric Radiation (ARM), the Program for Inter Climate Diagnosis and Comparison Model (PCMDI), Project International Land Marking Bench Model (iLAMB), Earth Community Model System (CESM) and Next Generation Ecosystem Experiments (Ngee) for the Arctic and the tropics.

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